Two Decades Strong — Family Place Libraries Celebrate A Milestone

(NewsUSA) – Libraries are no longer just spaces filled with books and movies to borrow. They are places of wonder and imagination and, if they happen to be affiliated with Family Place Libraries (FPL), they are fun, interactive early learning and family support destinations for families with very young children. And they are celebrating their 20th anniversary.The Family Place Libraries initiative began when the former library advocacy organization, Libraries for the Future, was searching the nation for a model parent program that could be replicated in public libraries. A visit to Middle Country Public Library and its Parent/Child Workshop sparked this collaborative project.Family Place Libraries is a nationwide network of children’s librarians who embrace the fact that literacy begins at birth, and that libraries can help build healthy communities by nourishing healthy families. The organization transforms libraries into community centers for early literacy and learning, parent education and engagement, family support and community connectivity, helping to ensure that all children have the foundation they need to succeed.Over the last 20 years, FPL has grown from five to more than 500 sites in 30 states and it keeps growing.The organization has worked hard to build relationships among the librarians and parents, children and community early childhood, health and human services agencies.These libraries offer parents, caregivers and community agencies access to a variety of services and materials: books, toys, DVDs, programs, information and referrals to library and community services (i.e., early intervention, parenting support groups, ESL, citizenship), and guest speakers on a variety of topics. All of these offerings strengthen the bonds between the libraries and the communities they serve.”Family Place brings together the critical elements for families … reading and learning, a relationship with knowledgeable staff equipped with tools to support families, an opportunity to learn in a new way, a place to meet others in the community, and form strong cohort relationships,” says one library director.Evaluation findings from the three-year Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant corroborate this.* Partner library directors and librarians became critical communicators and advocates for both the importance of the early childhood years and the role of the library in those years within their local community and library profession;* Active membership in early childhood and family support coalitions increased from 59 percent to 79 percent;* Presentations at local, state and national professional conferences increased from 68 percent to 100 percent.* Seventy percent of community agencies surveyed believed that their agencies have an increased understanding of the needs of families with young children because of the library.* Ninety-five percent of community agencies surveyed see the library as a vital link in supporting families and the early learning of their young children”I have always loved the library, but adding Family Place toys, encouragement for interaction — this has improved my perception,” says one community agency. “It makes it easier to refer families.”Family Place Libraries have become an integral part of communities throughout the country — starting young and looking at the whole child and family to encourage and support learning and identify and address needs to help build and strengthen healthy families.And they look forward to 20 more years.

Many Working Moms Can’t Afford Their Health Care Deductible

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – A survey from Aflac and Working Mother magazine found that growing health care deductibles are unaffordable for nearly half of working mothers.

In recent years, medical costs have continued to rise while wages remained stagnant, leaving working mothers with little money on hand to save for their deductibles, causing them to reallocate family funds to cover medical bills. Fortunately, resources like supplemental insurance are available as a financial safety net to help cover out-of-pocket costs because no one should have to choose between paying medical bills and buying groceries for the family.

Learn more at www.aflac.com/workingmother

The Opioid Crisis’ Latest Victims: Addicted Babies

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – And now the nation’s opioid crisis is putting newborn babies at risk.
The use of prescription painkillers like OxyContin by women during pregnancy has resulted in what’s being called “an explosion” of infants as addicted to the drugs as their mothers. Newly published data in JAMA Pediatrics shows the number of cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) has risen five-fold in the U.S. from 2000 to 2012 — that’s nearly 22,000 affected infants in that last year alone — and the reality behind those stats is heart-wrenching.
“The babies, they really suffer, just like adults do when they withdraw from narcotics,” Dr. Terrie Inder, chair of pediatric newborn medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told CBS News. “The babies are very irritable and sometimes have high heart rates, sweating, flushing, diarrhea. They cry a lot.”
Heightening experts’ concern:
* The crucial early “bonding” between mother and child is disrupted, given the babies’ average hospital stay of 24 days.
* The mothers — often unaware of the potential collateral damage from the painkillers they’ve been taking — experience what Inder calls “anxiety and guilt.”
Back and neck discomfort is especially common during pregnancy since women’s postural changes can result in spine and pelvic pain. The open question is whether this latest development — combined with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s call last year for physicians to dramatically curtail prescribing opioids — will encourage more women to seek alternatives like drug-free chiropractic care.
“All chiropractors are trained to work with women who are pregnant,” the American Pregnancy Association says, lauding their expertise in “establishing pelvic balance and alignment.”
As the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress notes, visits to highly educated and trained doctors of chiropractic are covered by most insurance and health plans.
Learn more at F4CP.com/findadoctor.

Seniors Find That Doing Good Is Good For You

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – There are two things that older adults have in spades these days: time and knowledge. And both make them the perfect match for volunteering.
By giving back as little as two hours a week, or about 96 hours a year, older adults are discovering how to keep their lives active and healthy.
Research shows that seniors who volunteer can combat depression, stave off chronic pain, and boost brain power. In short, volunteering can promote longevity.
Still need another reason to get out and volunteer? With the number of volunteers age 65 and older expected to double in a few years, chances are you’ll reconnect with old friends and make new ones.
“Volunteering gave me a reason to get up in the morning and stimulated my brain as I learned about topics and issues that were completely unfamiliar to me,” says one volunteer.
To help educate older adults about the benefits of volunteering, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) launched a public education campaign to raise awareness of the issue and to prompt older adults to take action. The centerpiece of the campaign is a publication, “Doing Good Is Good for You: Volunteer!”
This brochure provides you with a Self-Assessment Checklist that can help you evaluate the range of issues and activities that you may find most interesting in a volunteer setting.
For example, are you interested in animals, politics, or art?
Do you enjoy activities such as gardening, tutoring, or counseling?
The Checklist gives you dozens of options.
One prospective volunteer who completed a checklist of his interests was a lifelong musician. He checked “arts and culture” as a favorite and said he loved teaching others. When the local volunteer coordinator signed him up, she had no idea that his instrument of choice was a ukulele. Two years later, his lessons have become so popular, he’s teaching in two senior centers to packed classes.
The point is, there’s a volunteer opportunity for everyone, and it can be found with the simple click of a mouse.
For more information on volunteering, and to download your free copy of the brochure and other resources, visit www.n4a.org and find the “Volunteer Resource Center” under n4a Initiatives.

Telecom and Cloud Service Options Expand in Africa

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Affordable mobile telecommunications in Africa are expanding through a joint venture between two Virginia-based companies.
“Our 20-20-20 goal is to serve 20 million Africans in 20 countries by 2020,” says Paul Delkaso, managing member of the Virginia-based Artilium-Africa, and president and CEO of Tristar and Tritente Global Energy Group.
“Africa’s population across 54 countries is 1.2 billion. To be able to reach the maximum number of people most cost-effectively, our strategy is to partner with existing mobile operators to expand their customer base, while also looking for strategic opportunities,” he says in a statement.
Artilium-Africa is a collaboration between an established Belgian telecommunications company and the Tritente Global Energy Group (TSMPG.com), an organization launching $4.6 billion worth of renewable energy and transmission infrastructure in Africa. Artilium-Africa has initial arrangements in place with mobile operators in five African countries to provide cloud and telecom services.
Artilium provides software to network operators and service providers. One of the key benefits of the service is Artilium’s signature product, the ARTA Mobile Applications Platform. The platform enables network operators to open networks to third party developers and launch new services with elements from both telecom and web environments. The service is designed to optimize the way customers in Africa use mobile technology, whether to pay bills, manage data, or connect with the world.
Artilium-Africa has the potential to leapfrog over mobile competitors Facebook and Google in pursuit of the African audience, according to a company statement. The Artilium software allows for 80 percent to 90 percent cost savings and fast connectivity, while the decentralized design allows for inexpensive deployment of cloud, telecom, and value-added services. In addition, the company’s credibility with many Sub-Saharan countries has facilitated several contracts that comply with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. University partnerships also may help build the Artilium network capacity in Africa.
Artilium-Africa has an exclusive license for Africa to deploy its disruptive 700-terabyte, 15-kwh micro data center, which requires about as much power as a vacuum cleaner and takes up about as much space as a small refrigerator. The company is integrating this micro data center with its “All-in-One-App,” with features that include bill paying, chatting, and connecting with services such as hallo doctors or hallo taxis. “Think PayPal, WeChat,Viber, WebMD et. al., rolled into one All in-one App and tailored to Africa,” says Delkaso.
Visit artilium-africa.com to learn more about the company’s partnerships and potential.

The Top State for Robotics Innovation? Florida Will Surprise You

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Lifelike animatronics, next-generation “surgeons” and mechanical warfighters — words that might create visions of a Sci-Fi blockbuster. However, these innovations in high-tech robotics are real and you need look no further than Florida to find them. The history between the state and robotics is a long one. Since the birth of IBM PC in Boca Raton in 1981, the “Second Machine Age” has been thriving in the Sunshine State.
Florida’s robotics revolution covers a lot of ground, including mobility assistance and research, but a common theme found in the state’s innovation reliance on technology that defies human capabilities, including in the life sciences. Seamless procedures on the spine, cancer cells and more have been enhanced by robotics at the Florida Hospital Global Robotics Institute and Mazor Robotics, both in Orlando. Similarly, Kissimmee-based Photon-X explores the science of photonics, such as fiber optics, in applications for robotics surgery.
According to Photon-X President and CEO Blair Barbour, “Medical robotics is the next generation of surgery. The technology is perfected to eliminate human error from procedures, making it possible to enhance surgeries and surgeon capabilities with better hand-eye coordination. Tests have proven that patients also heal faster through robotic surgery.”
The Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) in Pensacola takes a different approach to defying human capabilities. By pairing scientists and robots to develop systems using complicated human thought process and versatile machines, IHMC develops systems that save lives in situations where help is needed but the risk is too great for human response, including in nuclear meltdown sites and space exploration.
To develop the groundbreaking technology that Florida has become known for, the world’s most talented scientists are required, and the state has made it possible to attract and retain that talent. Says Julie Sheppard, general counsel of IHMC, “Being in Florida helps us with our recruitment. In addition to the exciting work, IHMC is able to hire top talent due to Florida’s weather, our affordable housing and all the access to waterways for recreational purposes. We are especially appealing to scientists from cities with a higher cost of living because we offer our employees a more attractive lifestyle.”
Homegrown talent is cultivated at colleges throughout the state, including the Tallahassee-based Center for Intelligent Systems, Control, and Robotics (CISCOR), a cooperative program between Florida A&M University and Florida State University. As one of the top schools in the country for development and implementation of robotics technology, CISCOR’s students focus on studying mechanical design and human-robot interaction, including mobility in complex environments.
In addition, the Army has collaborated with students to develop automated motion planning, terrain classification and design and modeling of four-legged robots.
For more information about high-tech robotics in Florida, visit www.enterpriseflorida.com

Protecting Seniors Online from Scams, Hacks and Tax Fraud

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – The vast majority of seniors today are using the Internet at least once a week to check email, pay bills online and keep in touch via social media. But all that time online puts them at risk for scams and hacks, such as tax fraud.
In fact, a new survey by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network, found that 67 percent of surveyed older adults have been the victim of an online scam or hack.
Encouraging seniors to practice cyber security can go a long way toward protecting their identity and sensitive financial information. Home Instead collaborated with the National Cyber Security Alliance to create Protect Seniors Online, available at www.ProtectSeniorsOnline.com, a free resource that educates older adults about cybersecurity. Here, seniors can test their cybersecurity skills with the “Can You Spot an Online Scam?” quiz.
Older adults can take the following steps now to protect themselves online:
*Password protect and secure devices, accounts. Lock all devices (including computers, tablets and smartphones) with secure passwords in case devices are lost or stolen.
*Think before clicking. When faced with an urgent request — like emails asking for money — think before clicking or get a second opinion. Clicking on links is often how scammers get personal information. When in doubt, trash an unusual message.
*Share with care. More than half (51 percent) of seniors surveyed by Home Instead use social media to stay connected. Use care when sharing personal information, adjust privacy settings to limit who can see your information, and turn off location sharing.
*Use security software. Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and program it to run regularly. And be wary of pop-up ads or emails, many of which contain malware that can infect computers.
*Log out. Log out of apps and websites when you are finished. Leaving apps and websites open on computer screens could make you vulnerable to security and privacy risks.
*Recommend support. Older adults who live alone may need help from a trusted source — such as a family member, tech-savvy friend or professional caregiver –to serve as a second set of eyes.
To explore additional Protect Seniors Online resources, including the interactive quiz, visit www.ProtectSeniorsOnline.com
A Home Instead office near you can be found by visiting www.homeinstead.com/state.

Get An Edge on College Prep Tests

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – The college application process and the college prep testing that goes along with it can be overwhelming for students and families. Tests such as the SAT and ACT are an important element of the application process, and therefore a source of anxiety. However, only about 30 percent of public schools have an advisor dedicated to college prep.
An outside organization offering test prep courses, such as Sylvan Learning, can make a significant difference in test preparation. More than 15,000 students benefit from Sylvan’s test prep programs each year with higher test scores, and even some perfect scores, according to the company.
“Students need someone to help them navigate through this very confusing process and Sylvan Learning’s prep programs are a valuable resource for that,” says Anathea Simpkins, Sylvan Learning’s Director of College Prep Products.
Since the debut of the revised SAT in March 2016, Simpkins says, she has noticed that more students have trouble with the math section in which calculators are not allowed. The “Words in Context” items in the reading and writing sections also pose a frequent challenge for students. Sylvan has adjusted its SAT and ACT prep programs to focus on these challenging areas and help give students the edge they need, Simpkins notes.
Tips for success on the new SAT include:
*Read more. The new SAT includes word problems in math, passages in writing, and text to be read before composing an essay. In addition, several items may be based on one passage, and failure to read effectively could impact several answers.
*Focus in class. Much of the SAT comes from sources used in the classroom. Many passages in the reading and math sections draw from the context of social studies and science, so it is important to pay attention in all subject areas, recognize connections, and apply familiar concepts to new ideas.
*Know your tough spots. An initial diagnostic test can show where a struggling student needs help, so these skills can be a top priority during test prep sessions.
Sylvan Learning takes on the challenges of college prep tests by identifying the skills needed to succeed in each section. Each chapter of a Sylvan program includes robust practice and a unique online component, SylvanPrep.com, which provides thousands of video-based lessons for additional practice and support that is especially useful in a student’s problem areas.
Visit sylvanlearning.com/prep for more details about Sylvan Learning’s college prep programs.

One New Year’s Resolution You Don’t Have to Keep to Be a Winner

(NewsUSA) – Looking for a resolution that can literally pay off even if you wind up not keeping it? Think your finances.That’s right, unlike the gazillions of other New Year’s pledges we make this time of year only to soon break — can you spell D-I-E-T?– simply vowing to handle fiscal matters better can have "a positive impact" on your bottom line.That’s one of the more intriguing findings from Fidelity Investments’ just-released eighth annual "New Year Financial Resolutions Study," and it’s based on stats like these comparing respondents who said they’d made financial resolutions at the start of 2016 to those who hadn’t:* Resolvers beat non-resolvers when it came to ending 2016 more debt-free than the previous year (45 percent vs. 34 percent).* They also now feel more "financially secure" (45 percent vs. 34 percent).* And they also feel more optimistic about their finances looking ahead to 2017 (52 percent vs. 37 percent).And those who actually did follow through on their resolutions?Sixty-six percent said they’re now "in a better financial situation."The fact is, people who make resolutions on money matters tend to feel better about the state of their finances, which helps them stay engaged and make progress toward their goals," says Ken Hevert, Fidelity’s senior vice president of retirement.So what did the study find to be the top three financial resolutions for 2017?Turns out Americans are remarkably consistent.For the eighth straight year, saving more topped the list among those at least considering making a resolution (50 percent), followed by paying down or paying off debt (28 percent), and spending less (16 percent).And while Americans were optimistic about 2017 — Millennials being the most upbeat, with 87 percent of them believing they’ll be better off financially — those surveyed had some real concerns. Chief among them: the dreaded "unexpected expenses," which was Number One last year, too."Whether it’s a new roof for your home or a medical emergency, the unexpected can throw your finances for a loop," says Hevert. "In fact, for those whose resolutions fell short in 2016, almost three-quarters said they were derailed by unforeseen expenses, so setting aside an emergency fund can create a buffer."Which makes resources like Fidelity’s new online "Three Financial Resolutions for 2017" especially worth reading. It includes a rather savvy tip on how people could find themselves with a $22,000 windfall if — instead of paying the typical household’s $43 a month in bank and credit card fees — they switched to no-fee institutions and invested that money over 20 years at a hypothetical compound annual growth rate of 7 percent.Hmmm. Not a bad addition to anyone’s resolutions list -; only, in this instance, they’d have to follow through on it. 

U.S. Apple Industry Supports Student Causes and Promotes Healthy Snacking

(NewsUSA) – Caminar en un país de las maravillas del invierno puede inspirar sensaciones cálidas, pero conducir en invierno tiene el efecto contrario. Conducir en invierno puede ser un reto, pero mantener su coche correctamente sujeto significa un largo camino hacia la paz de la mente cuando el clima de invierno golpea. La conducción invernal segura comienza donde el caucho se encuentra con la carretera, en los neumáticos.Un neumático diseñado para funcionar en condiciones de invierno puede ayudar a los conductores a sentirse más seguros y confiados. El neumático Michelin X-Ice Xi3, es un neumático diseñado para hacer frente a carreteras heladas y condiciones de manejo potencialmente peligrosas.Según Ed Gliss, piloto de pruebas y experto técnico de Michelin, los neumáticos de todas las estaciones son una apuesta segura para condiciones inferiores a 40 grados Fahrenheit, pero "una vez que las temperaturas llegan al punto de congelación, y más bajas, considere los neumáticos de invierno, que proporcionan una tracción superior para el manejo en carreteras nevadas y heladas".Al equipar su coche con neumáticos de invierno, es importante considerar y entender qué características del neumático generan el agarre de tracción y manejo para navegar con confianza en las condiciones de invierno.–Huella: Cuanto mayor sea el número de bloques de la huella en un neumático, mejor será su rendimiento, con el aumento de la capacidad del neumático para agarrar la carretera bajo el hielo, en condiciones de nieve. El X-Ice Xi3 de Michelin está diseñado con un aumento del 15 por ciento en el borde mordaz para un agarre confiable.–Huella de compuesto de goma: la química juega un papel importante en el desarrollo de los neumáticos más seguros posibles para las condiciones de conducción en invierno. Un compuesto de sílice, como el Michelin Flex-Ice, puede ayudar a mantener la flexibilidad de los neumáticos en temperaturas por debajo de la temperatura de congelación, lo que contribuye a un rendimiento más fiable de los neumáticos en las carreteras cubiertas de hielo o nieve. La sílice también mantiene la firmeza de un neumático cuando las temperaturas son moderadas, lo que mejora el agarre y el desgaste de los neumáticos.Independientemente de si tiene neumáticos de invierno, no olvide verificar regularmente la presión de sus neumáticos para ayudar a asegurar su rendimiento óptimo. Los controles de presión regulares son especialmente importantes durante los meses de invierno, ya que los neumáticos pierden presión a medida que baja la temperatura. Otros consejos para una conducción segura en invierno incluyen la comprobación del estado de las escobillas del limpiaparabrisas y los niveles de líquido, y la comprobación de los faros y luces de freno para asegurarse de que sean totalmente funcionales.Para obtener más consejos sobre el cuidado del coche en invierno, visite www.MichelinMedia.com